A Peek Inside Playdance

If you have ever been curious about what our preschool dance program Playdance class is like, look no further! 

Let’s take a peek inside a typical Playdance class and talk about all of the things you can expect when choosing to enroll your little one into the world of dance at JLDC. 

It’s never too early to introduce the art of dance into your child’s life. Which is why JLDC’s award-winning PLAYDANCE® curriculum, was designed to support physical, social, and cognitive development, to help children grow and learn through their natural love for music and movement.  

Taught by instructors who specialize in early childhood development, Playdance has been building confidence, inspiring a sense of adventure and encouraging self-expression for children ages 6 months to 3.5 years old for over 47 years! 

Toddler preschool dance program in Newton, MA



“An early start in dance and movement provides important intervention for physical, emotional and cognitive development in babies and toddlers allowing them a head start in gaining self-awareness and self-esteem,” – Joanne Langione, Founding Director of JLDC


Becoming Comfortable Inside the Preschool Dance Class

Each Playdance class starts with a “tea party” that welcomes children into class with an open prompt for play and exploration.

Carefully selected toys of all different varieties are laid out on a blanket, giving students the ability to explore the space freely and begin to interact with their other classmates in a calming and stress-free environment. 

Joined by their caregivers, children use this time at the beginning part of class to become accustomed to the dance studio, with the comfort of their grown up close by. 

Once the students have become comfortable with the space, the next step of class is to begin transitioning into more of the independent part of learning and dancing. 


Transitions and Independent Exploration

The Playdance teacher is trained to ensure that each student is prepared for each upcoming transition during the class.

Throughout our preschool dance program, the teacher can be heard making clear and direct cues for both students and parents to support the transition from participating together, to independent participation at a very gentle pace. 

The first clear cue during the Playdance class is to help clean up all the toys from the “tea party” and begin saying goodbye to their caregiver. 

For the youngest dancers in Playdance 1, caregivers stay in the classroom and play an active role in experiencing the dance class together with their child. For older toddlers in Playdance 2, caregivers take their child’s lead as they navigate toward independent participation in the class. 

JLDC’s expert teaching faculty combined with the gentle pace of the Playdance curriculum is designed to provide flexibility so that each child can transition on their own time.

At this point of the preschool dance program, students begin to sing familiar songs, start exploring simple movements with the teacher, and continue the exploration process of the new and exciting world that they have just been introduced to. 


Learning the Fundamentals 

One of the most magical parts about Playdance at Joanne Langione Dance Center, is that more often than not, the student may not even realize they are learning the fundamentals of dance. Students are having fun and typically feel more confident and open to jump into dancing alongside their teacher. 

The Playdance teacher does a fantastic job at drawing attention to each body part used during the class. 

Starting with waking up their toes, moving to bouncing their knees, discovering big arm circles, as well as shrugging their shoulders to familiar songs the students know and love. This all leads to teaching important spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, and musicality which are all essential to your little one’s early development. 

Another key factor in a successful Playdance class is continuous movement. There is never a quiet moment once the class has started. This helps the student stay engaged and interested as they move around from one activity to the next inside of the classroom. 


Half day Playdance preschool dance program for toddlers in Newton, MA.  

“A friend recommended JLDC and we are SO happy they did. The teachers made our daughter feel so special and comfortable right from the start! She was very excited at the end of each class to show me what she learned. I’m so thrilled to have found such a warm and nurturing environment!” – JLDC parent


Imagination and Self Expression 

Creativity, imagination, and exploration are the roots of what makes a Playdance class so beneficial. 

Throughout the class, students travel around the studio opening strategically placed treasure boxes. While being aware of the treasure boxes at the beginning of class, this challenges and teaches patience and being able to follow directions until it is time to reveal what may be inside each box. 

Within each treasure box is a new opportunity for learning, exploration, and discovery. 

There are scarves, stuffed animals, capes, wands and more to help students use their imagination and creativity inside of the dance studio. 

The scarves are designed to act as wings for students to fly around the room. The scarves also allow students to practice their fine motor skills by crumpling them up, throwing and trying to catch them, as well as folding them back up to return them to where they belong. 

The teacher focuses on the importance of cleaning up and working together before moving onto the next activity.

By keeping the pace of the class and continuing to cue the student throughout the clean-up process, it can uplift the student and help them stay attentive, motivated, and excited for what is to come. 

After all of the focus, following directions, patience, and new found dance skills the students just learned, it is now time to reward them with more independence and freedom inside of the class. 


Celebrating Independence

Learning new skills and staying focused for 45 min to an hour can be exhausting for a young dancer. That is why the last bit of class is tailored to celebrate all the hard work that was just done inside of the class. 

Students can dress up in capes and have the opportunity to dance freely inside of the studio. 

While sneakily, still working on following directions and cues made by the teacher along the way. 

This teaches students to remain focused, follow direction, and practice spatial awareness while navigating other dancer’s bodies inside of the class. 

Once their opportunity to dance freely is over, it is officially time to say goodbye to their teacher. But before they are ready to walk out the door, the parents are invited back in to witness each student do a curtsy or bow to earn their special stamp.

This part of class is extremely special! The students are excited and proud to show their parents all they have learned during class and can’t wait to receive a stamp from their teacher. 

There are a million benefits to starting dance and Playdance at Joanne Langione Dance Center is the easiest way to begin. Whether you choose to start Playdance 1 or jump into Playdance 2, you can feel confident that your little one will feel loved, supported, and nurtured through every step of their dance experience in our award winning preschool dance program. 


Let’s Dance Together!

If you are interested in enrolling your child at JLDC, please click here for more information.

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Shawn Mahoney

Shawn Mahoney began his ballet, tap, and jazz training at the Joanne Langione Dance Center and his early performing career with Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre in Boston, MA. As an apprentice, Shawn danced for American Ballet Theatre before joining Boston Ballet. At Boston Ballet, Shawn performed in Petipa, Balanchine, Kylian, Forsythe, Bejart and others. Shawn performed as a chosen member of “Tharp!”, a national and international touring company directed by Twyla Tharp. Ms. Tharp invited Shawn to be part of the creative and choreographic process for her Broadway hit “Movin’ Out” and performed in Tharp’s “Red, White, and Blues”. Shawn performed with the Suzanne Farrell/Balanchine Project, Sean Curran Company, Washington Ballet, and Bale Estado de Goias. As an educator, Shawn has taught internationally for Festa de Danca in Sao Paulo and Bermuda Civic Ballet. Currently, Shawn is on faculty at Emerson College, instructing dance classes to actors and musical theatre students and is a teacher and lecturer at Days in the Arts. Shawn founded Mahoney Agency, representing dancers for national engagements for the Nutcracker Ballet. Shawn is a sought out mentor for emerging artists and choreographers in ballet and contemporary dance.